Book: Poonachi: Or the Story of a Black Goat
Author: Perumal Murugan
Genre: Domestic Fiction
First Published: 2016
Major Characters: Poonachi, Poovan, the old woman, the old man
How often has this happened that a friend suggested a book in which you were not interested at first, but when you read the book, you thanked that friend for suggesting a masterpiece?
Well, the same thing happened to me with the book Poonachi: Or the Story of a Black Goat by Perumal Murugan. I was not at all interested in reading about a goat, but when I tried it anyhow (judging the book by its attractive cover), I was taken aback by the magic the book cast on me.
As the title itself says, Poonachi is a story of a goat, a beautiful black goat. At the beginning of the novel, there was a stranger carrying a baby goat for sale. He wandered one town from another but couldn’t find a buyer. Finally, when no one bought and the day was about to end, he gave the goat an old farmer, whom the stranger met in his way. The old farmer lived with his wife; they were extremely poor and managed to survive through farming and rearing animals.
The farmer’s wife named this black goat- Poonachi and took care of her until she was able to graze. The story will tell you what difficulties Poonachi had to endure while growing up, how her life changed when she became an adult and had her babies, and what cruelties she and other goats had to face in their lifespan.
The story is set in the southern part of rural India. True, it is a story of goat, but Murugan has cleverly humiliated the state’s political system. The book mentions critical issues like famine, poverty, and oppression that would make you feel the pain of the poor in the country.
“Everyone was well versed in how they were expected to behave towards the regime. They had mouths only to keep shut, hands only to make obeisance, knees only to bend and kneel, backs only to bend, and bodies only to shrink before the authorities.”
-Perumal Murugan, Poonachi: Or the Story of a Black Goat
I found the story somewhat depressing, but I enjoyed reading it. I liked the narrative style of the author; it made the reading as slippery as an ice surface. Since I live in a village where I see dozens of goats every day, I was able to relate to most of the things in the story. But if you are from a city and haven’t visited any rural area, the book will give a glimpse of the village life.
The paperback version of the book contains 170 pages, so you would be able to finish it within a day (if you are a serial reader). The book was originally published in Tamil in 2016, which was then translated to English by N. Kalyan Raman. The language may seem somewhat difficult if you are a beginner, but still, you will be able to enjoy it.
I am sure you have not read this type of book in which the protagonist is a goat. The best thing is that you would be able to see the world through the eyes of Poonachi and know how animals feel about various things we do with them. And, I will recommend this book to every Indian. Give it a try; it’s worth reading.
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